Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

The Book With Baggage

An Idea for a Series of Posts…

Or maybe a Pop-Up. Or a new writing book. Or all three.

This came about when a number of professional writers were talking and writer J. Steven York mentioned a book he was going back to that he had struggled with. And then we got talking about that book (or two) that we all had that carried so much baggage with it, we either couldn’t finish it or don’t want to think about it ever again.

I have never met a long-term professional writer that doesn’t have a book-from-hell story. Or a book so hard to work on that it is  just not finished. Maybe a cursed book. A book tied to a bad event in your life. An unlucky book. You get the idea.

“A Book with Baggage.”

So tonight, as I head to bed because I have to be up at an unholy hour tomorrow to start CES, I thought I would toss that idea out there. Steve thinks this would make a good book. I do too.

And the sequel book would be called “Eating the Elephant.”

(Also his idea. (grin))



  • Harvey Stanbrough

    Dang, Dean. Not for the first time, I wonder whether you’re somehow hiding in my closet. This is an eerily timely post.

    My current WIP (the first of my current challenge and one that will be Book 10 in a series) was inspired by a brief, odd conversation I had with a widow after the funeral of her husband. As a friend of the deceased, I’d been invited by his adult children to read a poem I’d written on the occasion of his passing. (The widow had no problem with that, but she and I had never met.)

    And toward the end of my writing day yesterday, I hit a bump in writing that novel. I’m not really “stuck” so much as mired a little. There’s a scene I have to work through by just writing the next sentence, etc.

    Truly, every book is different, but this one is more different than most of mine. I’ll continue with it through today, but if I continue to have to stop every so often to clear the mud off my boots (especially in light of my challenge) I’ll set it aside as-is, write a different novel in a different series, and come back to this one later in the challenge sometime. (grin)

  • emmiD

    Love the idea of both ideas and will snap them up.

    I really struggled with two of my books last year. I thought both would be easy.

    I started the first one years ago and thought it would be easy to finish. Total gut. My writing and understanding of story had changed so much.

    The other one, just finished, was totally new. I still haven’t figured out the reason that I kept shoving everything else in front of it. I liked the characters and the setting and situation , the various obstacles, and more. I could see my writing changing, improving—especially thanks to the first Depth class. I don’t understand, however, why it took from May to January. Even the previous struggle only took six weeks.

    Maybe the struggle is a reflection of my in-between scrunched-up existence right now.

    So I’ll look forward to reading your ideas!

  • Linda Maye Adams

    Yup. That would be my second book, a Civil War thriller. I signed up with a co-writer for the wrong reasons–because I was having so many problems with length and novel structure. He said that was a strength for him (not true, but I think he believed it was). Things were great during the initial creation. We had a lot of fun writing the story. He had visions of being an instant best seller and fear of finishing. I saw some hints of it in the first draft of the story as we finished…a reluctance to do queries…the desire to network to get agents. When we realized we had a skill gap and redrafted the story, it showed up a lot more because I was pushing to get it out and onto the next one. He would have happily revised the first chapter for years because it felt productive. When I pushed to finish, he tried stalling the project by saying something was wrong with the first chapter and it needed to be fixed–but he could never explain what it is. When I wouldn’t let him randomly revise, he started picking fights. Eventually, with a novel in the hands of an agent (thanks mainly to me), we broke up. I had to walk away from the book. Hardest thing I did. Then I had to get back on the horse and figure out what was wrong with my writing. That was harder.

  • Maria

    Love this idea, Dean! I do have such a book, too, so I know what you are talking about. Life goes on, but that book doesn‘t go anywhere. Other books write themselves in-between, but the feelings of guilt keep accumulating because of that one book not written. Love to read your thoughts about it. Have a great day!

  • Mike Southern

    I like the idea of a series of posts/book. (You’re going to turn a series of posts into a book anyway, right?) I have one of those books too, although I wouldn’t call it a cursed book or anything. It was interrupted when my mom died many years ago and I’ve tried to start it over a few times without success… but I think it’s more a problem of craft than any bad feelings. I actually feel the book is a good one (I tried to write into the dark) but my problem is that I keep getting stuck at the same place in the book, which is why I think it’s a craft problem.

    Anyway, I like the idea. I vote for posts/book.

  • allynh

    I have a number of stories that I know, but can not write yet because they are too raw. Think The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I suspect that’s why Heinlein never wrote The Stone Pillow, so I always refer to those stories as my “Stone Pillow”.

    What I do is find the “funny”, then I can write them. People would ask: Do you mean funny “ha-ha” or funny “ah-ha”. That is, funny “humorous” or funny “strange”, and I would say, “Yes”. It takes both before I can proceed with most stories.

    I haven’t found the “funny” yet for those few “Stone Pillow” stories I have. When I do, I will.

    BTW, I just got Strange Highways by Dean R. Koontz, and in the back, “Notes To The Reader”, he talks about the same thing.